Author Archive

A Sense of Sin

I was asked to speak to a group of elderly ladies who meet weekly for scripture study and fellowship. During my talk, I discussed the effects of sin and the sacrament of confession. When I mentioned confession, a few of the ladies looked at each other and whispered “confession?” It was as if I had begun speaking in a foreign language. I took the oppurtunity to promote the great sacrament of confession and also to point out that for the last 40 years, our society’s sense of sin has been eroded to the point of people actually believing that they do not sin and do not need to enter the tribunal of God’s mercy in the confessional. This is very troubling and it represents the encroachment of evil in our society. Satan has been successful in convincing many souls that he doesn’t exist and that sin has no real effect in the life of the sinner. He is filled with malice but he is very adept at disguising himself so that we are not on guard against his tactics. The casual attitude in the Church, especially among the clergy, provides plenty of oppurtunity for the enemy to do his work.
A friend of mine was counseling a young couple who were living together outside the sacrament of holy matrimony and they appeared to see nothing wrong with what they were doing. He asked them the following questions to get them to see the seriousness of their ways: “Do you believe in sin?” “Do you believe that sin hurts the sinner?” “Do you see that what you are doing is sinful and hurts you both?” His questions were intended to stimulate a new way of looking at a sinful lifestyle.
A sad development in the Church is the concept of excusing or ignoring serious sin in the name of charity. We don’t want to upset people or make them mad and drive them away. There is no charity in allowing people to remain in sinful ways that can cause the damnation of their eternal soul.
We cannot be happy and live far from God – sin means we lose our God and we lose our happiness. If we saw our child preparing to cross a busy highway without carefully looking both ways we would rush to prevent them from leaving the curb – why are we not equally alarmed at the possible loss of sanctifying grace in their soul and the eternal reward of heaven? It is amazing to see supposedly devout Catholics, pillars of the Church, condoning the sins of their adult children in the name of love. Tough love is just that – tough – but it will hopefully lead, after some tension and conflict, to a return to virtuous living on the part of those who have strayed.
We should read the lives of the saints and pray as they did for a hatred, a horror for sin. God Bless.

New Post

Just back from vacation – to see the effect of the oil spill on the Gulf region was quite sobering. Please pray for all of those affected by this scourge. A new post will be available soon. I am deeply humbled by your comments and support. God Bless.

Homeschooling

I read a recent article written by a conservative political writer in which the author gave a very good defense of the homeschooling movement in our country. I posted a reply to his article to validate his statements because as a father of four I believe my experience in this great adventure of homeschooling enables me to offer helpful insights from the “frontlines”, so to speak. The almost immediate assumption is usually made that parents decide to homeschool in order to shelter and protect their children from the barrage of negative influences in our society. Ten years of homeschooling has revealed to me, however, that the “protection” or “shelter” motivation is not at the top of the list of reasons to homeschool. Those are reactive, or preventative reasons brought about by witnessing the degradation and coarsening of our culture and realizing that the institutionlized school system is not immune to these effects. The proactive, positive motivation to homeschool is at the top of the list of reasons to undertake this noble venture. Very simply put, a child being taught in his own home by the one person who loves them more than any other person on the face of this earth is by far the best way to educate that child. Education is a drawing out, not a cramming in. A mother can gently and lovingly draw out of her child the awesome potential that Almighty God has placed there in the heart, mind and soul of that precious child. Homeschooled children not only learn the three R’s but they also learn how to live a life and serve their God. The sacred ingredient is love which makes homeschooling anything but a sacrifice – on the contrary, for a woman to leave her children every day to allow someone else to teach and mold her kids while she subjects herself to a boss and a paycheck – THAT is a real sacrifice. Granted, not everyone can homeschool and some women are forced to work outside the home by circumstances, but on the whole the most beneficial, positive way to produce young people of good character, good moral fiber and personal strength and fortitude is accomplished in the christian homeschool. This post will be continued soon. God Bless.

Clapping in Church

This past Sunday’s bulletin for one of our local parishes contained an article promoting clapping in church. The author stated that applause in church is a way to show unity among the laity (?), that it is a good way to worship God and strengthen our faith. It was also stated that applause has slowly grown in acceptance in our churches. It is interesting that as practices such as this have become more and more accepted, that mass attendance has plummeted along with reverence for Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. There is a story of Pius X being escorted into St. Peter’s Basilica to thunderous applause – the next time he appeared in the Basilica, he ordered that notices be distributed to the faithful that there would be no applause for the servant in the house of the Master. Clapping in church is a relatively new development in the Church and it is among many other things that have contributed to the Protestantization of the liturgy and the Church as a whole.
The Catholic Church is the Church of God – it is a regal, royal, supernatural institution. The Church is evidence that Jesus Christ is alive in Heaven. Why do we want to strip her of the majesty God clothes her with? Why do we insist on introducing words and actions to bring her down into the ordinary realm of human existence? Pope Benedict himself stated in a book he wrote in recent years that as soon as applause breaks out in church, then the spirit of the liturgy has stopped and we have entered a purely human activity. Why would we intentionally do such a thing? The liturgy is our chance to be touched by Almighty God, to worship Him in a way that honors Him and elevates us poor sinners. After being in the muck and mire of the world all week long, the Holy Mass is our precious chance to be in the Presence of, and to be kissed by the Divine Lord Himself. Why do we want to drag the liturgy back down to earth so it seemingly loses its power to transform us?
Our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith – without it, we would soon be worshipping false gods and dying a slow death. It is everything to us as Catholics. That faith in the Eucharist should be promoted, protected and cultivated so that it can exert the maximum amount of transformation in our souls. When we clap in church, we create an auditorium atmosphere and a subtle message is sent out: “the mass is no big deal – it’s just another church meeting and that is not really Jesus in the tabernacle” When that happens, we are in deep spiritual trouble. Visit christianfamilyoutreach.com for an excellent pamphlet on clapping in church. God Bless.

Communion in the Hand

I had an interesting discussion with some good friends on the ride up to the closing ceremony of this past weekend’s Pentecost Cursillo – we were discussing the issue of Communion in the hand. One of the men mentioned Mother Theresa of Calcutta’s statement that the saddest thing she saw as she traveled around the world was people receiving Holy Communion in the hand. Considering the misery this holy woman encountered every day of her life, this is an astounding statement. I agree with her.
Most people don’t realize that the bishops voted on this issue at the Second Vatican Council and the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of retaining the traditional manner of receiving communion on the tongue. So what happened? A few disobedient bishops in different countries began to allow communion in the hand in spite of the expressed wishes of the Church which were revealed in this vote. The practice began to spread and after many years of this abuse, the Church, by way if Indult, ALLOWED communion in the hand. So, it is by way of years of something being done in defiance of the Church – disobedience – that we see the great majority of Catholics receiving Our Lord in their hand. Are we comfortable doing something that we know only came about through an habitual defiance of the Church’s preferred practice? It can be compared to a parent forbidding a child to do something and the child disobeys for many years and engages in this activity behind Mom and Dad’s back. By the time Mom and Dad realize and find out what has been happening, the child is grown, the damage is done and to lay down the law would cause World War III in the family.
Communion on the tongue is a beautiful way to demonstrate our dependence on Our Lord and His priests. His priests come and feed our souls with the Holy Body of the Lord. One last thing: up until the 1960’s, the idea of anyone other than the priest touching the sacred host was unheard of. Today, the sacred host is handled by the majority of people sitting in the pews. Has this caused a casualness in the way we look at the Blessed Sacrament? Can casualness result in a corresponding loss of faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the sacred species? Jesus is present in every tiny particle of the host – is it true that Our Lord is being placed in people’s pockets, that He is allowed to fall to the floor of our churches, that He is being stolen away for the purpose of sacriligeous practices, that He is being found in misalettes and in the homes of some of our fellow Catholics? The answer to all of these questions is yes and it is a predictable result of this practice which is only ALLOWED in the Church – it is not the norm – it is an exception. God Bless.

52 Men

I attended the closing ceremony of the Pentecost Cursillo last night. 52 men made the weekend. Words are not sufficient to describe or do justice to how the Holy Spirit transforms those souls fortunate enough to enter the halls of the Cursillo Center in Prairie Rhonde, La. This is no retreat. This is not a conference. This is not a weekend getaway. This is conversion. This is life changing and something that Almighty God uses to make a lasting impression in the souls of these men. My brother used to say “the Spirit is moving in Prairie Rhonde” He was right and we witnessed what the power of God can do.
The first time I heard that a man is to be the head of his home and that he is commissioned by God to lead his family in a self sacrificing manner was shortly before I celebrated my 41st birthday. I am a middle aged dog learning new tricks. But it is exciting. It is exciting because the grace of God is always available and maybe even a little more abundant when we set out to accomplish what He intended for us to do. It is His way of encouraging us. The trials and difficulties are ever present, but when the goal is clear and in sight, the hardships are tempered by an optimistic spirit. The icing on the cake, so to speak, is when the fruit of our efforts is visible in our children. When we can watch our adult children walking in truth and pursuing the call to holiness, all the struggle will be looked back upon as well worth it.
A crucial element in all of this is our daughters being taught and groomed to be the gentle, loving, nurturing souls that God created them to be. Women are very powerful and they are very capable of exerting strong, lasting influence on their children, especially their girls. It is vital that the influence exerted on our children be such that when they marry and begin raising children, that the scene is set and the foundation is put down for them to carry on the traditions that have served humanity so well for so long. Congratulations to the Class of Cursillo 422 – Onward!!

A Perfect Gentleman

Consider the twelve apostles – they lived with Jesus in the flesh for two and a half years, witnessing astounding miracles and preaching from the mouth of Almighty God Himself. Imagine the conversations they had with Him, the one on one Divine spiritual direction – and He knew they weren’t quite “getting it”. He knew who He chose and how blind & slow to believe they were. The raising of Lazarus from the tomb after 4 days should have solidified their weak faith – and yet, on His second appearance to them after He rose, the doors of the Upper Room are still locked “for fear of the Jews.”
Would you, dear reader, STILL be afraid after the first appearance of the Risen Lord who told them repeatedly what was going to happen? Maybe so.
But He chastised them for their lack of faith – would He chastise us also?
So, witnessing miracles, including the risen Jesus Himself was not enough for them to believe and surrender themselves to God. Living with Jesus for two years was not enough. What was the key that would turn the lock to open their minds and hearts? It was, and will be this Sunday, the coming in full power and authority of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This feast is a momentous event, an event that changes (or can change) the essence of who we are as Christians.
A very old, holy Franciscan priest said the following: the Holy Spirit has a very strong desire to rush into our hearts, minds and souls – He is waiting for us to prepare a place and then invite Him in. But, like the old saying goes: the pitcher never pitches until the catcher is ready. Most of us are not ready. What were Mary and the apostles doing for the nine days leading up to Pentecost? fasting and praying – getting ready. He is a perfect gentleman.
He waits for preparation and an invitation. If He comes, fasten your seat belt. He knows exactly what we need, what we lack, what defects need to be remedied. He knows our great potential and if we cooperate, He will bring us to a realization of who we were created to be and what we were created to do. Then, maybe “they will be created and You will renew the face of the earth” God Bless.

Manmade or Mystery?

The area where I live is feeling the effects of the so-called priest shortage. One of our local priests, a very spiritual, prayerful man, died recently at a very young age. Another priest from the same area has been assigned this priest’s parish – this in addition to the parish he already serves. Small problem: the priest assuming the duties of the deceased priest is very ill himself. He will no doubtedly have to reduce the number of masses offered at these two parishes along with his availibility for administering the sacraments. This priest is a very holy man, a true father and shepherd to his people – he will need much assistance and prayer.
We are blessed to have several parishes in our small area – this is Catholic country – but the situation seems uncertain and a little tenuous.
I remember writing to our bishop about the priest shortage and the lack of vocations in his diocese. I pointed out to him that the traditional orders have waiting lists of young men wanting to study for the priesthood – that the traditional homeschool academy with which my family is affiliated has several young boys thinking and talking about the priesthood. And the reaction to these traditional orders and homeschool academies? They are shunned, denigrated, called extremists and “pre-Vatican II dinosaurs”, ignored and even persecuted – and all this by those who sit in committee meetings and discuss and wonder where all the vocations have gone. We have Teen Masses, Spanish Masses, Indian Masses, Charismatic Masses – but just mention the desire to have a Mass according to the missal of 1962 – the mass referred to until 40 years ago as “The Mass of All Time” – and watch the horrified look of disbelief and astonishment come over these people’s faces. Tradition is one of the seeds and springboards of holy vocations – a young man being reared and groomed in a traditional Catholic home is much more likely to hear and obey the call of Almighty God. Bishop Fulton Sheen once said that 3 out of every 5 young men are called to the priesthood – but the call goes unnoticed and unheard unless a young man is prepared to listen and hear that call. On a large scale, the very things that promote and encourage vocations – things which are unmistakably Catholic- have been discarded in an attempt to hijack the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and take those teachings in a direction they were never intended to go. The shortage of priests is a fruit of that hijacking. The solution is for those of us who call ourselves traditional to set the example of authentic Catholic living and restore the Church to Her glory one soul at a time. A consistent example and the right words when needed just might do the trick. God Bless.

Men and the Cursillo

The Cursillo Movement was born as a result of a very devout Catholic man from Spain who saw that our society had turned its back on Christianity. The predictable result was (is) evidence that the old saying is true: “without the Creator, the creature dies.” This devout Catholic man and the friends he gathered around him to attempt to find a remedy for this situation also noted that the concept of masculine spirituality and male leadership was becoming something passe or old fashioned. In reality, male leadership is a gift God gives to men and society to assist us in rising above the level of animals and to live a vibrant, holy life. A famous military figure once said that his greatest weapon was the human soul on fire with the Holy Spirit. A man’s soul is capable of being ignited when he leads in an unselfish manner. The Cursillo Movement serves as a vehicle to place men in spiritual groups with other men in order to enhance this masculine aspect of their spirituality. Apostolic work and the noble endeavor of bringing Christ to other souls is the desired outgrowth or fruit of these groups of men.
Satan and his minions, both spiritual and human, have been very successful in tearing away at these simple, beautiful truths – the enemies of mankind know that if men lead and women submit to their leadership, the Cursillo Movement will be successful and THIS SOCIETY WILL CHANGE AND GO BACK TO ITS GOD.
As stated before, masculinity and femininity are gifts of God to assist us and provide a way to radiant, vibrant living – if we reject them and conform ourselves to the spirit of this world – a spirit that looks at masculinity and femininity with disdain and ridicule – we can be assured of very unpleasant, predictable results – bad fruit. Look around, open your eyes, listen with your heart – our bad fruit is rotting all around us. The good news is that God has provided the solution – an easily found solution – tradition.
A closing note to wives and mothers – the vasy majority of men will not assert themselves and lead their families – the idea of contesting with a woman is one they will avoid at all cost – it takes virtue to do the right thing. The outlets for him to escape to are too numerous to count. The
casualty that results from his flight are his marriage and the well being of his children, especially his boys. Their role model is on the golf course or in the pool hall while Mom fumes. Lastly – our Moms should avoid the temptation to lead and become bitter. Instead, pray for that rascal and become his cheerleader, not his greatest critic – God will reward her wise and virtuous actions. If we think that it doesn’t sound fair, think of Jesus on the Cross. Where those two beams of wood meet is true wisdom – perfect love. God Bless.

Man of Steel and Velvet

Several years ago, I attended a family celebration with my wife and four children. At some point, I walked outside to check on the children playing in the spacewalk outside. I was holding my one year old son. Two of the ladies inside the house were watching me and one of them remarked that I was doing such a good job of raising my children. The other lady said that I led
my family with an iron fist inside a velvet glove. Hopefully, that meant that I am trying to combine unyielding firmness covered over with tenderness and loving concern. Almighty God and I both know my successes and failures in this endeavor, but it is a very accurate description of what a Father in the home should be. It is what I am striving for and it is the vision I hope to convey to as many Dads as I can in this forum.
Did God really intend for men to lead? Begin with simple anatomy: men are, in most cases, physically larger and stronger than most women, men have deeper voices and men can cut a more imposing figure in most settings.
This is by design and it is beautiful in its simplicity – leave it to modern man to muck it up and confuse simple issues. The question “Are men and women different?” was the cover story of a major magazine a few years ago. The people of every generation before the 1950’s would scratch their heads in wonderment at such a silly question.
God gives men the gift of masculinity to plant in his heart the desire and the need to lead – and yes, he has a need and desire to lead. It is what fulfills his purpose in life and enables him to live radiantly, illuminated with ambition and a desire to overcome the obstacles in his path. But what intensifies this desire is the quest to enable his wife and children to walk in truth – to be examples of holiness and righteousness in a secular, pagan world. It is a noble mission, a great challenge and men need challenges.
More on this next time – we’ll close with a caveat, a “let the reader beware.”
The temptation when reading material like this is to make the almost automatic assumption that because it is stated that men should lead that women are less in dignity or importance than men. We assume that the visible, leading role is the better or more important role – it is an outgrowth of our superficial, celebrity driven society. Actually, it is very often the hidden, behind the scenes work that is just as important, just as rewarding as the activity out front and in view of the world. Mary of Nazareth proves the point – she was and is the classic “hidden woman” – does anybody think that she was insignificant and not a major player in the drama of our redemption and salvation? And yet the tradition of the Church tells us that we can infer from the very few instances in the scripture in which she speaks that she was a pillar of strength, a source of comfort & support for Our Lord – all behind the scenes.
Something to ponder: does America produce real men anymore?